58 Zephyros — By Alan Harper —
|Part 2: Driving the Windy 58, you quickly realize that this hull wants to be challenged.|
I also wondered whether the overall layout was completely successful. It’s a three-cabin boat, but the third is an en suite twin berth aft, under the cockpit sunpad. This would be good for crew or kids, but it means that the engines are mounted somewhat farther forward than on many boats of this class. As a result neither the owner’s cabin, occupying the full beam amidships, the saloon and galley area, nor the guest cabin in the bow feels particularly spacious. Comfortable, well designed, and beautifully finished, sure, just not very big. On a 58-footer, you want people to say “wow” when they go into the master cabin. They probably won’t on the Zephyros.
But then, I reflected, if anyone is going to say “wow,” Windy would want it to be the helmsman. It was time to try this machine in its element.
Winters in Britain are usually disappointing, with none of the drama of a full-on, Norse, midnight-sun production. On this February day, the biggest disappointment was the absence of anything heavier than a mild breeze to raise a ruffle on the sea beyond the shelter of the Isle of Wight. Driving the Windy 58, you quickly realize that this hull wants to be challenged. The steering, for one thing, is extremely light and sensitive. Electronic throttles also respond instantly to fingertip inputs. The new rudders, though smaller than the first set, still seem plenty big enough, and with 1,430 hp to call upon, it soon becomes apparent that this is a real driver’s boat, sure-footed and eager. Crank on lots of helm, and she heels like one of the 58’s legendary little sisters, and although the turning circle is nothing special—the prop tunnels see to that—you can still have an indecent amount of fun chasing your tail. My boat had 715-hp Volvo Pentas the smallest engine option—with the 900-hp MANs, the 58 would be a beast.
Hull shape and weight distribution contribute to that nebulous concept we call handling, but unless the helm position is right, the designer might as well have stayed at home. The helm on the Zephyros, though, is right twice over. Windy has ensured that whatever mood you’re in and whatever the weather is doing, you can sit or stand and drive this boat the way she was designed to be driven. The wheel adjusts for rake, and the controls are mounted on a separate sloping panel under the fingers of your right hand, just where you need them. The seat is comfortable and adjustable, and visibility is great. Seated, it’s a superb helm position.
But look. Flick a switch, and a nine-inch-high teak box glides slowly out from under the helm seat. It’s for standing on. Up you go, remembering to open the sunroof first. Lift the seat out of the way, and raise the wheel until it’s at a comfortable position. Now flick another switch, and that separate sloping panel with the throttle, autopilot, and trim tab and thruster controls raises to the horizontal, placing the controls under the fingers of your right hand—just where you need them.
Out there in the light chop of the English Channel, wishing for once that it was just a little more choppy, this perfect dual-helm position made perfect sense. The Zephyros has twice the hull volume and horsepower of anything Windy has built before. In scale and complexity, this has been a quantum leap. But she’s still a Windy, and that means two things: quality and handling. At the helm, these two come together, and the result is a truly great driving experience.
World Wide Yacht Phone: (631) 269-2628. www.worldwideyachtco.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.